INTRODUCTION since it reflects the core of this media.

INTRODUCTION

            Given the role that the media plays
in our present days; English as a foreign language   has become a very demanding means of
communication, since it reflects the core of this media. Therefore, it is
logical to presume that the average individual, not to bring up the EFL
learner, is getting exposed to a fair amount of English language through this
media, incidentally or deliberately. Depending on this fact, this average learner is expected to acquire
some aspects of the language consciously or subconsciously. Apparently, the
media has offered the learners an authentic environment to perceive and to
learn the language in its genuine form. In accordance, the subject has drawn
the scholars’ attention, prompting them to explore the media’s impact on the
audience in general and leading them to relate the outcomes to the hypotheses
of the second language acquisition. According to (Chomsky, 1975; Haliday, 1975)
language acquisition has been identified as a subconscious procedure that
occurs informally in the context of functional language use. Krashen (1982;
1985) stated that a subconscious process takes a place when a person is
acquiring competence in a second language. This contributes to the fact that it
is possible for the EFL learner to acquire language by being exposed to the
media without being aware of that fact.

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Furthermore, it is significant to
mention the positive influence that the media has on the learner, For example:
watching movies may encourage learner’s motivation to pursue and to succeed through the learning process, consequently, this
can help in reducing the “affective filter” that prevents the learners from
having the most of what they receive. The former supposition has been argued by
(Krashen, 1985) who suggests that, fearing failure, some individuals may elevate
an “affective filter” as a defense system which prevents them from employing
the input they might perceive for language acquisition. However, in order to
lower this filter, Krashen proposes that the language programs should be
motivating, non- evaluating and structured to embrace them in ways that cause
them to temporarily forget that they are reading or hearing another language.  Nevertheless, researches
regarding this topic are not sufficient to rely on, especially in the Middle
East region, despite the fact that this spot of the world is the most places to be
exposed to the English language. The advent of the Internet and modern
technology has contributed to the rapid spread of English, especially in Middle
Eastern societies, which are in constant contact with the West.  Obviously,
the geopolitical importance of these societies has provided the region with a
vital role in the world urging its inhabitants to acquire English two times higher
than the average.  Considering the
previous, I was prompted to choose this topic to discuss it because I am one of
those who acquired language through the media in several ways. For that reason,
 It is interesting to investigate such
effects on the perceivers; sharing their opinions on whether they believe it is
beneficial to learn English through the media and to what extent do they think
it is useful.  

LITERATURE REVIEW

It
has been agreed on by the scholars that technology is of an extreme importance
nowadays, since it contributes in bridging the gap between the world’s nations;
in line with that, they emphasized the importance of it in learning and taking on
any form of foreign language. In that context, linguists recommend the
integration of technology in the education system and praise its part in spreading
the language outside the classroom. Moreover, technology represented by the
media has offered the learners the authentic surroundings to acquire the actual
form of language as was said before. Gass (1997) argues that language
acquisition simply cannot take place in a vacuum without considering having
exposure to some sort of language input. Clearly, new technologies like the TV
and the internet have their own share in encouraging the learners to watch and
to acquire the language.  Meinhof (1998)
and Moores (1996) indicate that Digital television, available via cable and
satellite, adds a new dimension to learning from the TV by multiplying available
channels. Needless to say, the informal setting has sometimes a much more
important role in acquiring language the way (Lightbown and Spada, 2001) states;
in informal language learning setting, language learners either interact with
native speakers in the target language’s country, or use different technologies
at home or at work, watch a movie, or listen to music or songs, just as an
entertainment, which can lead to language learning. Regarding this, watching
movies, whether through the internet or the TV can enhance the learner’s
receptive and productive skills. B. Neuman (1992) believes that captioned
movies might benefit bilingual learners for various reasons, one of them is the
combination of picture and sounds that the learners perceive, which might
assist them in making a relationship between words and the meanings. Blosser
(1998) agrees on what B. Neuman says when announcing a positive relationship
between television watching and reading comprehension results for Hispanic
students. In addition, (Koskinnen, Wilson and Gambreel; 1987) finds a
significant improvement in word recognition and oral reading for students who
watch captioned movies. Rahmatian and Armiun (2011), conduct a study on 44
adult learners split into two groups (“Audio” group and “Video” group), intent
which type of document could improve the listening comprehension skill to a
greater extent. However, by comparing the average attained by the two
groups, the final result shows that the “Video” group obtained a better result
by 6%.  Concerning other skills such as
listing and speaking, Terrell (1993) explains that listing skills gained by
using video materials provide the learners with an experience that cannot duplicate
in traditional classrooms limited to instructors or students’ interactions. Joseph
R. Weyers (1999) conducts a study with an authentic soap opera to gauge if it
can foster learners’ comprehension and their oral skills; in that respect, he divides
his learners into two groups: experimental and controlled group. The experiment
was carried on in two second-semester Spanish classes for 8 weeks at the
University of New Mexico. All students had pre- and post-treatment tests. Nevertheless,
the experimental group watched two episodes of a Spanish soap opera per week.
Before viewing each episode, the teacher gave the participants a short summary
in English of the telenovela. At the end of the study, the outcomes of
the experiment indicate that the soap opera is a very beneficial to the
learners’ listening comprehension. D’Ydewalle and Pavakanun (1996), likely,
run a study  in which 74 Dutch-speaking
high school students in Flanders with no sort of feedback of Spanish language were
randomly assigned to nine groups that each view a different version of an
animated movie including Spanish, Dutch or an absent audio channels including
Spanish, Dutch or absent subtitles. Instantly, after watching the film, the students
were given a test of Spanish vocabulary.  The participants who watched the versions
containing Spanish subtitles and Dutch audio utter significantly better than
the ones who did not. A similar experiment with learners of a secondary
school level found a reasonable effect of watching television on grammar and
greater effect on vocabulary acquisition (d’Ydewall and Pavakanun, 1997). Two
additional studies reported in (d’Ydewalle et al., 2006) emphasizing the incidental
grammar acquisition by watching subtitled television and using Esperanto as a
foreign language, did not find a significant result. However, few studies
examine the effect of the media on grammar acquisition and  the majority of them found that instructed
learning is generally the most effective condition for grammar acquisition.  Koolstra and Beentjes (1999), split 246
primary school children (fourth and sixth graders) into three groups. One watched
a Dutch-subtitled English language documentary twice, the second group watched
that same documentary twice, but without the subtitles, and a third (controlled
group)  watched a Dutch television
program without subtitles. Subsequently, all participants were subjected to a
vocabulary test of 35 English words that were used in the documentary. The learners
who watched the subtitled version performed significantly better in the test
than the those who watched the non-subtitled version, who in turn performed
significantly better than the subjects in the control group. The sixth-graders
in this study also performed better than the fourth-graders, and pupils who
indicated that they frequently watched subtitled English television programs at
home outperformed those with a low or medium frequency of watching subtitled programs.
In a comparative vein, Forsman (as cited to Sjöholm, 2004) clarifies that the
observation that students in the southern part of Finland are more proficient
in English than the individuals in the Western part by the fact that, on an
average, the ‘Southerners’ Invest 15 hours per week more on English leisure
activities (especially television/video and music) than the latter. Koolstra,
Peeters, Also Spinhof (2002) have confidence that ‘the well-known  phenomenon of Dutch and Flemish children being
able to pronounce English or American words perfectly – even “slang”‘ is
probably due to the children’s use of English-language music, computer games,
and subtitled television. Speaking of the oral skills, being exposed to an authentic
input of a foreign language classes is significant because it is essential to
the progress of the learners’ communicative competence (Baltova, 2000, Weyers,
1999). Moreover,  movies provide the learners
with the native speakers’ real dialect better than what can be taught in
classrooms (Crowell & Au, 1981; Richardson & Scinicariello, 1989). Considering
other skills, many researches have been applied to explore language, communication
and culture in many different settings for various analytical purposes (e.g.,
Carbaugh, 1990; Thomas, 1990; Martin, Nakayama & Flores, 1998; Di Luzio,
Gor & Orletti, 2001).  According Sawyer
and Smith (1994), “language and culture are related to one another”. Therefore,
it is important to recognize the link between language and culture, the role of
culture in communication process and the significant relationship between them
in enhancing the intercultural competence (Poyatos, 2002a). Clyne (1996) and Lo
Bianco (2003) consider language as the most extensive manifestation of a
civilization. For each individual, their human value system, cultural and
linguistic patterns are structured both as a consequence of their primary
socialization within the household and community  in addition to their interactions with the wider
groups in which they participate. Actually, without pragmatic knowledge of the
language targeted and without having a background of how this language works,
it is impossible for the learners to improve their communicative skills, even
if they own the sufficient vocabulary or the sufficient grammar input. Thus,
without being exposed to any sort of authentic environment, learners are not
expected to improve their competence; and here comes the role of the media to
offer this authentic material to be benefiting from.

            However, it is important for the
scholars to understand why this authentic environment is important and how does
it function. K. Rocque (1998) indicates that in order to capture how this input
becomes intake; one should cover what the input is.  Input functions in two different dimensions,
as verbal and non- verbal cues. Gestures, for instance, takes place along the
majority of the communication between two individuals (Bacon, 1989). Input can
be unidirectional, such as when you are watching a movie or listening to a
speaker and it can be multidirectional, like when one speaks with another
person (Doughty & Long, 2003b; Swain & Madden, 1985). Because this
input differs from one setting to another the complexity also varies: for
example, notice that when two adults are communicating with one another they
use different language that teenagers use. Evenly, it is critical to pay
attention to speech acts, like apologies, promising and making demands, etc.
(Gass & Mackey, 2002). In relation, it is important for the learner to
comprehend and finally produce all of these complex cues. Here, films function
as an authentic background that includes all these types of complexities
starting with register, speech acts, morphology, syntax and ending with
phonology, pauses, and even occasional errors (Porter & Roberts, 1981).
Authentic films are an encouraging source of input for several reasons, but
mostly, because it is the only form of input that provides a real life example.
(Altman, 1989; Garza, 1996; Kramsch, 1993; Lonergan, 1984). Krashen (1991)
illustrates the relationship between receptive skills and productive skills
through his input/output hypothesis; he explains that input will gradually become
a good intake depending on the quality and the quantity of this comprehensible
input.

Above
all that, it is important to observe the entertainment part that such a
material offers which soften the learning process. Movies in general catch the
learners’ attention; heading  towards lowering
the anxiety of learning by reducing the “affective filter” of the learner.
Overall,  Films can be better than other
instructional media for connecting one idea to another, for constructing
continuity of thought, and for creating dramatic impact.  

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